Hurricane season is here, but cities are still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma from 2017. Cities in Lee County are set to receive millions of dollars to help with damage they are still recovering from.
FEMA announced it will give cities of Sanibel, Bonita Springs and Fort Myers $5 million each to reimburse those municipalities for recovery costs from Irma.
Sanibel officials said the city would be in a lot of trouble if another storm hit before it received the federal reimbursement. Officials said it’s been more than two years since they have been able to replenish the money put aside to clean up from a big storm like Irma.
”We were prepping for a category five storm to come right over the island,” said Steve Chaipel, Sanibel’s finance director. “But it kind of just shifted right at the last minute.”
Chaipel said the cleanup from all the debris was the biggest cost from the storm.
“We had $4.5 million in preparation reserves for something just like this,” Chaipel said.
Areas heavily impacted by Irma will be financially ready for the next big storm now that the federal aid will be received by cities in Lee County.
“This money will go right back into those disaster reserves,” Chaipel said.
An exact timetable for when the cities will be reimbursed by FEMA has not been announced.
Neighbors on Sanibel feel a little more ready if the winds happen to change.
“I think it’s important to get it back, so you’re prepared for next time,” Jessica Degraw said.